SERVICE: Does your pizzeria staff know the basic steps of service?

July 26, 2004

The steps of service are a basic skill expected from most consumers. But all too often, employers assume the servers they hire already understand the basic steps of good service.


Take the following dining experience I recently had.

I stopped for a late lunch in a small town that was gearing up for the summer tourist season. Most of the streets were closed for repairs, which limited access to many businesses; the roadwork greatly limited foot traffic on the main thoroughfares. As I entered a restaurant, I saw I was the only customer there.

A slightly catatonic young lady standing at the counter neither greeted me nor invited me to order, she merely glanced at me when I started to move towards the counter. I looked around for a moment and approached her, asking if I could see a menu. She sighed and pointed at the large hand written menu on the wall without saying a word. She seemed annoyed I didn't see the sign -- as big a car -- which made me feel a little silly. (Bad start to appear

Paul C. Paz

annoyed that I would ask for assistance, embarrass me and punctuate it all with a weary sigh!)

As I reviewed the menu, a young man appeared from the cooking area who greeted me with, "Hey dude." Friendly, but I wondered how he'd feel if I addressed his parents or grandparents as "dude," in my work as a server.

I asked the young lady a few questions about some menu items, and while her descriptions were technically correct, she seemed about as interested and enthusiastic about describing them as one would talk up cat food. As I gave her my order, I asked for a couple of accompaniments, to which she replied sharply how much more she'd have to charge me. After paying for my meal, she told me she would bring it to me when it was ready.

Depending on how you look at it, here's the sad/funny part: She handed me a table tent to place on my lone table to identify me with my order -- the only customer in this little restaurant of maybe 15 tables. Was she going to confuse me with someone else?

As I left the restaurant, the owner was at the cash-register counting the shift receipts. She didn't look up at me to say goodbye, "Thank you," or "Come back again." Nor did any of the employees. As the old saying goes, "The fruit does not fall far from the tree." And this owner's employees were clearly following her lead.

Learn the basics

These employees did not understand the basic steps of service; they didn't even understand basic courtesy. Have you ever tested your staff to see if they could explain to you those basics?

I did this recently at one of my custom service seminars. I randomly asked one of the staff if she had ever heard of "steps of service." Here the reply was no. I asked the group what the steps of service would be if they were serving me, and a young lady struggled to put it into words.

So I changed the question and asked her to walk me through the social process of her having friends to her home for dinner. It started with her guests coming to the door and all the stages she would go through. When she nailed all the basic steps of service, her eyes widened with the realization that she already knew them. She just hadn't connected her existing social skills with work skills.

So confirm with your staff that they really understand the steps of service. If they are unsure, try walking them through the process of entertaining at home. Don't assume they understand steps of service and use them with your customers; ask them and make sure they know them. Then add your own training twists.

Below is a list of basic steps of service. Some of you may scoff at this list, thinking it moronic to point these out. But think of all the dining experiences you've had in which you've been served by someone who doesn't do the following.

Standard Steps to Super Service

1. Greet guests warmly and sincerely.

2. Seat guests ... where they want if possible.

3. Explain the menu, describe specials and answer questions.

4. Take the order.

5. Write the order.

6. Take the order to the kitchen.

7. Pick up the order from the kitchen.

8. Serve the guests.

9. Check the table.

10. Present the check and receive payment.

In the meantime, Make It Fun Make It Easy, Make Some Money!

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Topics: Service

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